CI Week 7 Highlights

Saturday's slate of college games was chock-full of huge games at all levels of the sport. It was Judgment Day across the college landscape as FBS, FCS and Division II all featured top 10 matchups and many more tilts between top 25 programs. As always, CI coaches were in the thick of the drama. Across the board the CI Family came up with the goods, going 6-1 collectively in games featuring programs ranked in the top 25. At the top of the ticket, Tennessee WR Coach Kelsey Pope (@CoachKelseyPope) and the #6 Vols delivered the performance of the day, knocking off #3 Alabama in an instant classic. In the Big 12, TCU IWR Coach Doug Meacham (@doug_meacham) and the #13 Horned Frogs overcame a 14-point fourth quarter deficit and stunned #8 Oklahoma State in double overtime. On the East Coast, Syracuse QB Coach Jason Beck (@Coach_Beck7) and the #18 Orange solidified their place as a contender in the ACC with a 24-9 win over #15 NC State. At the FCS level, Rhode Island Defensive Coordinator/DB Jack Cooper (@CoachJCooper) and Richmond RB Coach Justin Poindexter (@FBCoachDex) each helped their teams move up the pecking order in the CAA with wins over fellow top 25 clubs, the #22 Rams and the #25 Spiders knocking off #18 Elon and #16 Villanova respectively. In Division II, Benedict Head Coach Chennis Berry (@coachberry77) and the #23 Tigers remained unbeaten and moved into the driver seat in the SIAC race with a 24-20 win over #21 Albany State. Keep reading for more highlights from Week 7.
Tennessee brushes past 15 years of Alabama smoke in triumphant, program-reviving rivalry win
A sellout crowd of 101,915 was on hand at Neyland Stadium to see Tennessee stun the college football world with its upset of Alabama. Countless millions more watched on television as Vols WR Jaylin Hyatt exploded for five touchdowns and 207 receiving yards against a Nick Saban coached secondary. Online, pundits were researching the old Baylor deep choice route concepts to try to understand how Tennessee's receivers kept getting open. What the spectators, television audience and pundits didn't see, however, was the years of hard work and relationships at the foundation of Saturday's cigar-smoking, goalpost stealing party. When former Tennessee WR Coach Kodi Burns left to take a position with the Saints, the choice to replace him was obvious to those within the program. As an offensive analyst, Kelsey Pope (@CoachKelseyPope) had already built the relationships and earned the trust of Tennessee's wide receivers to make his transition to the position seamless. As Hyatt noted in an interview last month: "I go straight to Pope because he was there last year when I was struggling and didn't think things were going right. When he was here as as an analyst, he was always there [for me] to help me get my confidence back and helping me with my game. I am really grateful for that guy. Coach Pope, I think he is the best receivers coach in the country." Stepping into the lead role with star WR Cedric Tillman sidelined by injury, Hyatt is coming into his own under Pope and was the best receiver in the country on Saturday. Hyatt helped the Vols jump out to a quick 21-7 lead on the Tide with two touchdowns in the first quarter. Alabama responded by going on a 17-0 run that spanned from the end of the first half and into the second to tie the game at 28-28, but little did they know that Hyatt was just getting started. First, Hyatt and QB Hendon Hooker connected on a 60-yard scoring bomb to put the Vols back up six, 34-28. After Alabama went up 35-34, Hooker and Hyatt dialed up from long distance yet again, this time on a 78-yard strike. Finally, Hyatt showed he has the toughness to go along with the wheels, going over the middle to haul in a 13-yard touchdown pass in between defenders to tie the game at 49-49 with 3:26 to play. After an Alabama missed field goal, receptions by Tennessee receivers Ramel Keyton and Bru McCoy set up a 40-yard game winning field goal from Chase McGrath as time expired. Congratulations to Pope on the massive win and Hyatt's performance of a lifetime! Before arriving in Knoxville, Pope served as the passing game coordinator and receivers coach at Gardner-Webb. He has also coached at Tennesee Tech, Shorter and Ohio Northern after finishing his playing career as Samford's all-time leader in receptions.
Michigan State defeats Wisconsin in double overtime thriller
Regardless of whether he's lined up at defensive end or linebacker, Jacoby Windmon just makes plays. A senior transfer from UNLV, Windmon became the first Michigan State player to win Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week three times in one season after another stellar outing versus Wisconsin. Windmon recorded a season-best 11 tackles against the Badgers, including two tackles-for-loss, one interception and one forced fumble. Not only did he fill up the stat sheet, but his plays came at key moments in the game for the Spartans. Windmon's interception came on Wisconsin's second drive, moments after the MSU offense had been stuffed on 4th-and-goal. Gifted new life, the Spartan offense took advantage when RB Jalen Berger scored on a 12-yard run to knot the score at 7-7. From there, it was a back-and-forth battle with neither team ever leading by more than seven. Deadlocked at 21-21 at the end of four quarters, the Big Ten rivals traded touchdowns to remain tied at 28-28 after one overtime. In the second overtime, Windmon struck again, jarring a fumble from Badger RB Jaelon Allen that MSU DT Dashaun Mallory recovered. As it did in the first quarter, Windmon's forced turnover led directly to Spartan points when QB Payton Thorne found WR Jayden Reed for a 27-yard touchdown and the walk-off win. Windmon's forced fumble marked his sixth of the season, three more than any other player in the FBS. The Bednarik Award candidate leads the Big Ten and ranks 8th nationally with 10.5 tackles-for-loss while ranking 2nd in the Big Ten and 18th nationally with 5.5 sacks. Congratulations to MSU Defensive Run Game Coordinator/DL Marco Coleman (@Coach_MColeman) on the win and Windmon's achievements! Coleman is in his first season in East Lansing after a three-year stint as the defensive ends and outside linebackers coach at his alma mater, Georgia Tech. As a player for the Yellow Jackets, Coleman was twice named a First Team All-American, including in 1990 when he helped Georgia Tech win the national championship. He went on to play 14 seasons in the NFL and was inducted into the Georgia Tech Athletic Hall of Fame in 2001. He began his coaching career as a coaching fellow for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2017 and spent the 2018 campaign as the assistant defensive line coach for the Raiders.
Buffs beat Cal in overtime for first win of season
Sometimes you just have to ask nicely. When Colorado WR Montana Lemonious-Craig made a circus catch in the end zone in overtime, he was initially ruled out of bounds by the referee. Knowing his heel had come down in bounds, Lemonious-Craig pleaded his case: "I knew I was in on the touchdown. I got up and told the ref, ‘Come on, give it to me, please.’" It was too late for the field judge to change his call, but the replay booth heeded the plea, reversed the call and justice was served. After the Colorado defense denied Cal on its possession, the student section at Folsom Field poured out onto the field in hopes of celebrating with Ralphie. Lemonious-Craig's overtime grab capped a career day for the sophomore, who finished with eight catches for 119 yards to lead all receivers. Colorado WR Daniel Arias also contributed with a key 41-yard reception in the first quarter to setup a field goal from Cole Becker that put the hosts up 3-0. Both offenses struggled to find their rhythm for the remainder of the half, but the insertion of backup QB J.T. Shrout and some trickeration helped jumpstart the Buffalo offense in the second half. Near the end of the third quarter, WR Jordyn Tyson took a handoff from Shrout and then looked upfield, lofting a picture-perfect deep ball to Lemonious-Craig for a 37-yard gain to the Cal 5-yard line. Three plays later, Colorado RB Anthony Hankerson cashed in from one yard out to give the Buffaloes a 10-7 lead. A pair of Cal field goals sent the teams into the extra session tied at 13-13, but Lemonious-Craig made sure that the wait was well worth it. Congratulations to Colorado Asst. Head Coach/WR Phil McGeoghan (@PhilMcGeoghan) on the win and contributions from his receiving corps! McGeoghan is in his first season in Boulder after a three-year stint with the Chargers as wide receivers coach. In each of his seasons in Los Angeles, he helped WR Keenan Allen earn a trip to the Pro Bowl and in 2019 he was instrumental in Allen and Mike Williams both surpassing 1,000 receiving yards. McGeoghan spent the 2017 campaign as the wide receivers coach for the Bills and has also worked with the Dolphins' wide receivers. At the college level, he has also coached at East Carolina, South Florida and Maine. While with the Pirates, he mentored WR Zay Jones who set a new NCAA record for receptions in a single season.
Black Knights roll to second win, topple Colgate
Through the first two games of the season, Army TE Coach Matt Drinkall (@DrinkallCoach) and the Black Knight offense turned heads when they ranked first in the nation in Passing Efficiency after racking up 446 passing yards and four passing touchdowns on 17 completions. While the Black Knights still possess the ability to air it out when necessary, Saturday's win over Colgate was a throwback to vintage West Point football. Army defeated Colgate, 42-17, to win its 21st consecutive game when wearing their classic gold, black, gold uniform combination. The offensive execution was also classic Army, churning out 467 yards and six touchdowns on the ground. Making his first start of the season, QB Jemel Jones set the tone early, taking the first offensive snap and going 75 yards for a score en route to 113 rushing yards and two scores on 12 carries. Not far behind Jones was RB Hayden Reed, who rushed for 87 yards and one touchdown, including a 45-yard rush on the Knights' second offensive play. In total, 10 different players logged carries for the Black Knights with seven rushes going for 20+ yards. One of the reasons why Army was able to have so much success on the ground was because of the holes that the offensive line and TE Josh Ligenfelter opened up with tenacious blocking. Per Pro Football Focus, Ligenfelter is currently the second highest rated tight end in the nation and first in his class. As always, the Black Knights were stout on special teams, highlighted by a 40-yard kickoff return by RB Miles Stewart. Special Teams Coordinator Sean Saturnio's (@CoachSaturnio) punt coverage unit also strengthened its grip on the national lead in the category, not yielding any return yardage on two punts. Through six games, Army ranks #1 in Punt Coverage, #14 in Kickoff Coverage and #26 in Punt Return. Congratulations to Drinkall and Saturnio on Saturday's win and strong performances from their charges. Drinkall is in his third season as tight ends coach after spending the 2019 campaign on the Hudson as an offensive analyst. He spent the previous five seasons as the head coach at Kansas Wesleyan, where he guided the Coyotes to a 13-1 record in 2018 and an appearance in the NAIA semifinals. He presided over the four winningest seasons in KWU history and averaged over 54 points and 540 yards per game in 2018. Earlier in 2018, Drinkall participated in the AFCA's 35 Under 35 Leadership Institute. Saturnio is in his ninth season in West Point and fifth as special teams coordinator. He has also worked with the team's tight ends and fullbacks over a stretch that has seen the Black Knights win four Commander-in-Chief's trophies, reach five bowl games and post two 10+ win seasons. He previously coached tight ends at Georgia Southern and also has head coaching experience at the high school level in Hawai'i.
In first start, QB Ben Wooldridge leads Louisiana to win at Marshall
Something about lightning seems to spark the Ragin' Cajun offense to life. In Week 2 versus Eastern Michigan, Louisiana was shut out in a first half that included an hour-long lightning delay. The Cajuns' found themselves down 14-0 at the break but stormed back with seven touchdowns in the second half to win 49-21. On Wednesday night in Huntington, West Virginia, Louisiana's offense was again sputtering prior to a 37-minute lightning delay near the end of the second quarter. Down 7-3 at halftime, the Cajuns roared out of the gate in the third quarter, scoring on their first four possessions. With starting QB Chandler Fields and starting RB Chris Smith both sidelined due to injuries, Louisiana turned to backup QB Ben Wooldridge. Bolstered by a strong performance from the Cajun offensive line, the redshirt junior did not disappoint in his first career start. Wooldridge threw for 230 yards and two touchdowns while adding 45 yards on the ground.  The dagger came five minutes into the fourth quarter. On the seventh play of an up-tempo drive that saw Louisiana exert its will on a tired Herd defense, Wooldridge connected with WR Michael Jefferson on a 32-yard touchdown to put the Cajuns up 23-7. Marshall would claw back within 10 but could pull no closer as Louisiana secured the 23-13 win to improve to 3-3 on the year. Congratulations to UL OL Coach Bryant Ross (@CoachBryantRoss) on the win! Ross returned to Lafayette this season after previously serving as an offensive analyst for the Cajuns from 2018-20. In his three seasons, Ross helped the Cajuns win three division titles and one conference title prior to taking over his own room as the offensive line coach at Grambling in 2021. He has also coached at Mississippi State, where he won the 2017 Gator Bowl, and Central State from 2014-16.
Abilene Christian turns back Southern Utah, 21-18
It was Homecoming in Abilene, Texas and the ACU alums were treated to a show. The entertainment started just six plays into the game when ACU Special Teams Coordinator/TE Matt Clark (@Coach_MattClark) dipped into his bag of tricks and snuck quarterback-turned-safety Peyton Mansell into the game disguised as the punter on 4th-and-8 from the Wildcat 39-yard line. With a mustache that would make Bobby Valentine jealous, Mansell pulled off the ruse, collecting the snap and taking off down the right side for a 46-yard gain. One play later, ACU RB Jermiah Dobbins finished the drive with a 15-yard touchdown run to put the Wildcats up 7-0. Southern Utah would respond with a field goal in the second quarter but ACU QB Maverick McIvor connected with WR Kobe Clark to put the Wildcats up 14-3 at halftime. The Thunderbirds countered with a touchdown to cut the lead to four in the third quarter, but ACU safety Elijah Moffett came up with the game's first turnover when he intercepted a SUU pass and returned it 37 yards down to the Thunderbird 15-yard line. Four plays later, ACU cashed in on the favorable field position once again when RB Rovaughn Banks, Jr. plunged into the end zone from one yard out to restore the Wildcats' 11-point lead at 21-10. Clark's special teams would deliver again on SUU's ensuing possession when the punt return unit smothered SUU punter Jake Gerardi after a mishandled snap. The Thunderbirds would draw within three late but the ACU offense was able to run out the clock in the end to improve to 5-2 overall and 2-0 in WAC contests, the program's best start over seven games since moving to Division I in 2013. Congratulations to Clark on the win and great start to WAC play! Clark is in his first season in Abilene after serving as an offensive analyst at Texas Tech for two years. He previously served as the offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach at New Mexico Highlands and has also coached at Louisiana-Monroe and Nicholls State. Like Drinkall, Clark is a 2018 alum of the AFCA's 35 Under 35 Coaches Leadership Institute.
Virginia Union finishes off Bowie State in overtime
Saturday's clash in Bowie, Maryland did not qualify as a top 25 matchup because while Virginia Union entered the weekend ranked #11 with an unblemished 6-0 record, the Bulldogs had uncharacteristically dropped a pair of road games in September. Ranked or not, VUU Assoc. Head Coach/Offensive Coor./OL Mike Morita (@CoachMorita) and the Panthers understood that the road to a CIAA title still passed through the home of the three-time defending champs. Bowie State held a four-game winning streak against VUU and had not dropped a conference home game since 2004. Both of those streaks came to a screeching halt thanks to another master class from dynamic sophomore RB Jada Byers. With nearly 300 more rushing yards than any other rusher in any level of NCAA competition, Byers extended his national lead with 277 rushing yards and a touchdown against the Bulldogs. Byers' touchdown came on a 23-yard rush early in the third quarter that put the Panthers up 10-9. A few minutes later, VUU extended its lead when QB Jahkari Grant found WR John Jiles for a 11-yard score. But a pair of Bowie touchdowns in the fourth quarter, sandwiched around a 6-yard touchdown rush by Grant, knotted the game at 24-24 and forced the extra session. After the Panther defense stood tall on a goal line stand, the VUU offense failed to generate any yardage on its possession, but it ended up being a moot point when kicker Brady Myers connected on a 42-yard field goal for the win. Congratulations to Morita on the big win! While Morita's offense was limited to almost half of its scoring average at Bowie, the Panthers still lead all of Division II with 48.6 points per game. The 2021 AFCA Division II Assistant Coach of the Year, Morita is in his sixth year with the Panthers and second as offensive coordinator. Prolific offensive production is nothing new for the Panthers under Morita, as the team ranked 5th in the nation with 45.2 points per game in 2018. Morita arrived in Richmond after a three-year stint as an offensive quality control assistant at Vanderbilt. He previously spent seven seasons as the offensive line coach at Albany where he helped guide the Great Danes to four conference championships.
Remember the Titans: 41-6 triumph over Thiel returns Westminster to winning ways
For a program accustomed to winning national and conference championships, two-game losing streaks are uncharted waters. Yet for Assoc. Head Coach/Co-Offensive Coor./QB David Blake (@CoachBlake 41) and the Westminster Titans, this was the position they found themselves in after dropping a pair of hard fought contests at Carnegie Mellon and Washington & Jefferson. Complicating matters was the fact that four-year starter and all-conference QB Cole Konieczka went down in the Washington & Jefferson game with an injury and was unavailable versus Thiel. Fortunately for the Titans, Blake had prepped backup QB Tyler McGowan and the freshman was ready for action. McGowan completed 11-of-17 passes for 117 yards and three touchdowns as Westminster cruised to a 41-6 win over the Tomcats. TE Damon Maul was the beneficiary of two of McGowan's touchdown tosses and RB Ryan Gomes rushed for a game-high 134 yards with two scores for the Titans. After McGowan, Maul and Gomes had done their damage, Blake had the good fortune of emptying his bench. Backup quarterbacks Joseph Ranft and Billy Levak both impressed in limited action, combining to complete 3-of-4 passes for 55 yards and one touchdown. As a team, the Titans gained 23 first downs compared to Thiel's six and outgained the Tomcats by a margin of 393-136. Congratulations to Blake on the win and McGowan's strong debut as a starter! Blake transitioned back to offense this season after serving as the Asst. Head Coach/Defensive Coor./LB at Bluefield State in 2021, where he directed a Big Blue defense that ranked in the top 25 nationally in First Down Defense, Passing Efficiency Defense, Passing Yards Allowed and Forced Fumbles. Blake arrived at Bluefield after spending the 2020 season as a defensive assistant and player personnel analyst at Auburn. He previously worked on the offensive side of the ball at Arkansas State and also spent three seasons at Memphis, where he helped the Tigers win two division championships.
Quick Hits
  • Florida Atlantic outside linebackers Marlon Krakue and Courtney McBride each recorded sacks as the Owls relied on a strong defense to upend Rice, 17-14. Congratulations to FAU Assoc. Head Coach/OLB Raymond Woodie (@CoachWoodie)!
  • Georgia Southern racked up 590 yards of offense in a 45-38 upset win over #25 James Madison. Congratulations to Eagles RB Coach Matt Merritt (@Coach_Merritt)!
  • Austin Peay piled up 570 yards of offense in a 52-17 blowout win over Murray State. Congratulations to Governors Co-Offensive Coordinator/OL Ryan Stanchek (@CoachStanchek)!
  • Chowan drove 58 yards over four plays in 25 seconds to stun Virginia State at the buzzer, 43-40. With the win, the Hawks improve to 4-1 in CIAA games. Congratulations to Head Coach Mark Hall (@CoachHallChowan)!
  • Cornell's defense kept Lehigh out of the end zone on 6-of-7 red zone chances and returned an interception for a touchdown as the Big Red defeated the Mountain Hawks, 19-15. Congratulations to Cornell LB Coach Jeff Comissiong (@jeffcomissiong)!
  • Elizabeth City State QB Chase Williams completed 12 passes for 219 yards and two touchdowns as the Vikings held off Lincoln, 21-19. Congratulations to ECSU Head Coach Marcus Hilliard (@Coach_MHilliard)!
  • Culver-Stockton RB Demarquez Johnson rushed for 109 yards and one touchdown as the Wildcats rallied to beat Graceland, 26-14. Congratulations to C-SC Head Coach Tom Sallay (@CoachSallayCSC)!
  • Henderson State scored nine unaswered points in the fourth quarter to come from behind and knock off #12 Harding, 15-14. Congratulations to Reddies RB Coach Chris Bryant (@ChrisR_Bryant)!
  • Texas Wesleyan moved into a tie for first place in the SAC with a 53-28 win over #20 Langston. Congratulations to Rams Senior Defensive Analyst Tony McClain (@DLineDude5)!
One more CI coach will be in action tonight when the Chargers host the Broncos on Monday Night Football. Good luck to Los Angeles WR Coach Chris Beatty (@BeattyCoach)!

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